How to Convert a Bicycle to an Electric Bicycle

Updated April 17, 2017

Electric bicycles are a hybrid between mopeds and bicycles. While most electric bicycle motors are not powerful enough to do all of the work like a moped, all electric bicycles provide pedal assistance to reduce the effort of riding. Most ordinary bicycles can be converted into an electric bicycle with a conversion kit. Electric conversion kits come in a variety of makes and models, but installation is generally the same. Electric conversion kits come with a motorised wheel, a battery, charger, throttle, controller, connection wires and some sort of rack to mount the battery on the bicycle.

Choose a suitable bike to convert. Refer to conversion kit to find out if your bike can be converted. Some conversion kits suggest that the bicycle fork be made of steel to ensure it can provide the proper support needed to hold the electric motor. Also check that the kit you purchase is designed to fit your bike. Kits supply a new front wheel that needs to be the same size as the original. To measure your wheel, take a tape measure and measure the diameter of both the rim and the tire.

Remove the original front wheel. Turn the bicycle upside down and release all of the air from the tire. Remove the axle nuts with a wrench, unscrewing them in a counterclockwise direction. When removing the wheel, release the brakes so you don’t damage them. If you have a quick-release wheel, there will be a lever on the axle. Flip this into the open position and the wheel should slip out easily.

Install the new wheel. Place the new wheel in the bicycle fork. The wheel will have wires that attach to the battery pack, and you will have to refer to the manual about which side these wires need to exit from. Some models have the wires on the left while others have them on the right. Secure the axle bolts tightly with a wrench. Adjust your brakes if necessary and check that they are firmly gripping the rim.

Mount the battery rack. Depending on the model of your kit, instructions may be slightly different, but most racks use the rear axle and seat clamp for support. You will need an Allen wrench to attach the lower portion of the rack to the rear eyelets above the axle on the rear wheel. These will attach with bolts or screws. The top portion of the rack will attach to the eyelets near the lower portion of the seat with bolts or screws.

Mount the controller. Refer to the manual about the suggested placement of the controller, however, keep in mind it will need ventilation to protect it from overheating, so do not place it inside the battery bag. Common placement is below the handlebars or under the seat rack. The controller can be fastened with zip ties or a bungee cable.

Mount the throttle. Remove the right handlebar grip. If it does not slide off easily, blow under the grip with a can of compressed air to loosen it. Slide the throttle over the handlebar and tighten with a wrench.

Run the wires. Attach the wires from the motor to the corresponding plugs on the controller. Connect the corresponding throttle wires to the controller. This will attach with a single cable. Fasten the loose wires to the frame with zip ties. Connect the battery to the controller with the supplied wires.

Test the ignition to ensure everything is connected properly and enjoy your ride. If you are having trouble installing the kit, refer to a bike mechanic for assistance.


Improperly installed conversion kits can lead to serious injury. Refer to a bicycle mechanic if you need help installing your conversion kit.

Things You'll Need

  • Bicycle
  • Electric bicycle conversion kit
  • Wrench
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Zip ties
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About the Author

Travis DeLingua has been writing professionally for print and online publications since 2005. He has been published in magazines including "Time Out New York" and the "New York Press." DeLingua has a Bachelor of Arts in English from SUNY Albany.